Foodies Salone: Disrupting the Sierra Leonean hospitality industry

Foodies Salone is a Branding and Marketing Consultancy Firm founded by three young visionary women: Mariama Wurie, Aminata Wurie, and Onassis Kinte Walker.

In this interview, Mariama shares her story and thoughts about her journey as an entrepreneur.


How I turned my passion for food into a business

When I moved back to Sierra Leone in 2016, I started working for a local and an international NGO at the same time.

Since the NGO didn’t have an office, it was quite common to work from a café or restaurant to use the free Wi-Fi for the day. I spent a lot of time in my car driving between meetings and coffee shops.

Every day, my colleagues and I would work in a different place: new restaurants, new hotels, new cafes, etc.

Coming from Montreal where the food scene and customer service culture is amazing, I noticed this was not the case in Freetown. Everywhere I went, there was always a reason to complain to the manager, or ask to speak to the owner.

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Very quickly I realized that the same complaints were coming up wherever my partners and I went. We summarized that these problems were usually around product and service.

  1. In most restaurants, there was a lack of consistency in quality and menu variety – most restaurants served burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, shawarma.
  2. Most restaurants didn’t adjust their menus to focus on local ingredients.
  3. A lot of waiters were poorly paid and managers often did not invest in hospitality training.

We thought solutions to these issues will help restaurants achieve variety and consistency. Services like menu consulting, branding and customer service are just what many Freetown restaurants needed.

With Foodies Salone (Foodies), we decided to build something that would motivate establishments to step up their game and improve their standards.


How we started Foodies Salone

We tested out our business model through a lifestyle Instagram account. Our strategy was to highlight restaurants that were building Sierra Leone’s dining culture. Any featured restaurants had to be locally owned, pay fair wages and have good customer service.

With Sierra Leone’s small economy, restaurants rely on a limited customer base to make a profit. Within months of running an Instagram account, Foodies Salone began to influence consumer behavior.

Our social media test allowed us to establish ourselves as an authority in branding, marketing, staff training, online listing and advertising, and business development to the multiple restaurant owners who began to reach out to us to improve their product and service.

Soon enough, demand became bigger than 3 of us could handle. With our business model tested and validated, we created our service package, registered our company, and opened a bank account.

Lessons we’ve learned

Educating the market

At the beginning, restaurant owners did not understand what we were trying to do.

We were talking about apps, websites, and social media, but they barely knew how to use Pinterest. We worked extremely hard to find simple ways to explain what we did and how it would help them.

Factoring in knowledge and infrastructure gaps was not something we had initially considered. For startups looking to innovate in unstructured markets, this should be something to consider in your game plan.

Be patient with your monetization plan

As three young African women trying to run a business in our own country, we faced a lot of hostility. On top of that, my own friends were quite skeptical about what I was doing.

The beginning was quite hard because I had no money. I was dead broke for the first nine months.

Most people knew about the Foodies Salone Instagram page, but they did not understand how we planned to monetized the brand. They were constantly asking me: “do you even have a real job? How do you make money? How can you afford to travel?”

When we started, we made a conscious decision not to touch the money we made and to re-invest all the profits into the business. I was living on my savings and nothing was coming in. It’s only when it became hard to put gas in the car to drive to a meeting that we started using part of the profits.

When you start a business, times are going to get hard. But, just stick with it. Forget the haters. forget the gossip. You have something good here and it's amazing – @MariamaWurie_ Click To Tweet

Just stick with it. You’re broke? Yeah, it’s a start-up. It will get better.

Advice for anyone looking to start a company?

  1. Solve a problem. Necessity is the mother of invention. If you are looking for inspiration on what kind of business to start, think about things that are lacking in your routine.
  2. Do NOT accept freebies. Some people will try to get you to work for free with gifts. Always assess the value of what you are given and the reasons why they are given before accepting.
  3. Stay professional. As a woman, people will be more critical of you. Make sure you keep everything professional. Stick to business.


Looking to boost your business/career? Sign up for the Motherland Mogul Insider program here.

WEBINAR WITH NGOZI EJEDIMU: LET’S TALK BREAST CANCER (OCT 31)

It’s breast cancer awareness month ladies! How much do you know?

Did you know that “1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime? Although, you can’t prevent cancer, it is important to be proactive about your health” – NBCF.


Early detection of breast cancer in women can lead to early treatment and effective management. This is what saved Ngozi Ejedimu, a stage 3 breast cancer survivor. She has gone through the painstaking survivor’s journey and is ready to share her story with fellow Motherland Moguls.

Knowledge is power ladies! We need to constantly get information from the right source and always get a second opinion. Let’s stay safe, hold each other close and always remember to check up on a sister.

Share this article with all the important women in your life to sign up for the webinar!

Ngozi Ejedimu shares her experience as a stage 3 breast cancer survivor and how she’s using @whatcancernaija to help women! Join us on October 31st at 12PM WAT! Click here for more: bit.ly/ngoziejedimu Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Healthy habits that help prevent breast cancer
  • Ways in which friends and family can be supportive of survivors.
  • Actions young ladies can take to increase awareness
  • How often ladies should undergo breast examinations
  • Resources for information, check-ups, etc.

Register below to access this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Ngozi to answer.

Webinar details:

Date: Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Time: 12PM Lagos // 1PM Joburg// 2PM Nairobi

Location: Register below to get access to this opportunity

About Ngozi

Diagnosed in 2016 with stage 3 breast cancer, Ngozi created a platform focused on life after breast cancer and survivorship for women called The Judah Foundation for breast cancer

She is a lawyer and founder of an organic sugarcane juice company that started in 2018. She is using her journey to get women to be breast aware and proactive about their health, as procrastination seems to be a silent killer in Nigeria. 

Ngozi uses @whatcancernaija to help women make informed decisions, by providing well researched medical information and real-life stories of other women.


How to rise above disappointments like a boss

There is this weakness that comes with disappointments or failure. One cannot really tell if it’s that kind of ‘general body weakness’ or something that goes beyond that. Something inexplicable.

That kind of feeling that makes one feel static, with little or no zeal to move forward. No doubt failure is often accompanied by disappointments and a lot of pain, which leads to unfulfillment or even depression.

Here are some ways to deal with and rise above these situations


Never Give Failure Power Over You!

It’s important for us to note that failure only has as much power as we give it. No! This is not saying you should immediately be filled with joy, slot in your best song and start dancing like nothing happened. (Well, you can do this if it works for you)

However, the point here is, the day we determine to deal with those failures and move on, is the day we actually move on.

Dealing with failure entails dealing with the dark clouds of disappointments, and the pain that comes with it.

Until this is done, every other thing will seem stagnant, as one may not have the drive to move on to the next phase of life.

Life is a Teacher! Take Notes

We see books on ‘Secrets To Success’ here and there, but I think there should also be books on ‘Secrets To Failure’.

This is not to guide one ‘into failure’ but ‘across it’. Knowing the bumps, as well as dos and donts of getting across where true success lies.

When we know the secret to failure in a particular field, it will be easier to either avoid or overcome it. For now, life remains the one school that teaches all, with no exception to failure.

This is the reason, moving on doesn’t just require leaving a particularly rough phase without taking anything along. Most failures leave us with nothing but lessons.

Whether these lessons are positive or negative doesn’t matter. What matters is for one to take note of these pitfalls, in preparation for the next phase of life.

Learn To Move On!

There is never a time life would take a pause because of one’s disappointments. So, the greatest evil we can do to ourselves after experiencing failure is to hold on too tight to it, that life leaves us behind.

Yes, bring it out! Pour out the emotions even if it means letting the tears escape your eyes, but after all these, move on! Even if you have to start inch by inch.

Change Your Narrative Now

Life happens, but how often do we happen too, after a particular setback in our relationships, businesses, careers or just our overall private life.

Often times what we do when life happens negatively is sit in the pain, perhaps in the midst of sympathizers and wait for things to keep happening to us, as it pleases.

The table can be turned around when you join the league of people who change their narratives. They may fall at some point, but they choose the better option of rising again.

They take their lives in their own hand with a sense of purpose.
They do not remain ‘nouns’ in a world that is a ‘verb’ itself. They move!

Success has no tribe, race or gender. Ironically, failure is even one of the major factor binding the history of most winners all over the world today.

When you fall, there are two choices- either you sit on the ground (till a good Samaritan come to pick you up) or rise and move on.

Moving on doesn’t mean one won’t feel the pain or shame of falling.

Moving on only indicates you’re in control of life, rather than life being in control of you, and this will definitely facilitate reaching your intended desired result.

Start happening! Stop waiting for things to happen. Change your narrative and live again!


This month of October, our theme is Girl Talk. We’re touching all topics relating to your personal life, mental health and so much more. Got something to discuss with us? Send us a DM to ASK SLA here.

The Tech and STEM pioneer of Botswana

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with. 

Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.

Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.

She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.

Connect with Kgomotso Phatsima and her business on social media.


Why I founded Dare to Dream…

When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.

After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.

I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…

I will talk about myself and my own experience here.

When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’

Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.

So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.

With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.

But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.

Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?

I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.

I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.

There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.

We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.

How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…

In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.

Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.

At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.

We need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.

We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.

Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…

We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.

BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate. 

We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.

We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.

It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.

There is something very powerful about collaboration.

We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.

What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year. 

The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…

Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.

After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.

So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…

We want young people to solve African problems using technology – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

Also, we want to teach them that they can look around for themselves, and identify where the problems are, and create devices and apps to overcome them, and make money out of them.

The fact that we are training teachers and students is a good step because we are pushing them towards appreciating the importance of 4IR and the power of technology in building businesses.


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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Join the SLA #SecureTheBag Challenge

Hey Girl,

End your Hot girl summer by securing the bag and getting your finances in order. Our 30 Day #securethebag calendar helps you: save, invest, and live your best life! 

So without too much talk, enjoy your calendar as promised! 

And, if you’re new to our community, starting tomorrow you’ll get more information on what She Leads Africa is and how you can boost your personal and professional development as a part of our community! Otherwise, it’s business as usual. 😏

Can’t wait to see how financially stable you become this season, so ensure to share your progress/ journey to getting the bag with us, every day on our social media @SheLeadsAfrica.

See you on Instagram!
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Share this with your friends and family, let’s get the bag this September.

You better get your Hot Girl Summer on, Motherland Mogul

Summer or no summer, you MUST live your best life.

You are a boss and keeping up with the trends in the digital world is the major key!

You must have come across the term Hot girl summer over the past month. If you’re not sure what everyone is on about, we’re serving you the tea in this article.

What is #HotGirlSummer???

The phrase #Hotgirlsummer was coined by American rapper, Meghan Thee Stallion. She used the term to tell women (and men) to be unapologetically themselves and fiercely go after their dreams and goals.

It simply means that summer or no summer, you MUST live your best life.

The term first appeared on Twitter after one of her fans posted a photo with the caption “I hear it’s a #HotGirlSummer”. Since then, the term has since caught on like bush fire.

Men and Women around the world are now posting fun and happy photos of themselves on social media with the same caption. The phrase represents women living out their best lives at their own terms, to make it the best thing to ever happen to them.

If you are looking to have your own Hot Girl Summer season like the Motherland Mogul that you are, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Review and Define Your Goals

In order to live life unapologetically, there must be a goal or vision that you are looking to achieve.

It is important that you have a vision of where you are going and come up with a plan of how you will get there. This may involve improving your current skill set or going back to school.

Choose your path and glow while pursuing your goals.

2. Put Your Best Foot Forward Where You are

In most cases than not, it will take time to get to your dream job/businesses/bosses and/or clientele.

While you are building towards your goals and dreams, it is essential that you grab every crucial opportunity that comes by. The journey to achieving your dreams is a culmination of all the work and effort that you are putting in now.

Use your current position to build a richer network as this will make your journey much easier.

The phrase, Your Network is Your Net worth should come in handy where you are now and when you finally get to achieve your goals.

3. Put In the Work

Nothing works unless you do.

To achieve anything in life, you must be willing to put in the effort and work required to get where you want to be.

It is also important to ensure that your voice is heard in meetings and in boardrooms. As you put in the work and effort, it is also very important that you are taking credit for your achievements.

You are much more memorable when your voice is heard, therefore, going forward ensure that you are the lady who takes credit for her work, contributes ideas and always have engaging thoughts in any meetings and conferences.

An organization or client will always value someone who adds value. Your work is then to add value. 

4. Have Fun While Doing It

Girl, work hard and play hard while you’re at it.

Going after your goals and choosing to be outstanding is definitely not always fun.

There is a lot of unseen hard work and in some cases, you are your own biggest cheerleader.

But, how about making it fun for yourself by having a weekly gratitude list?

Each week, write down something you are grateful for and also tick off a goal that you have accomplished. It is the consistent cumulative effort that eventually pays off and keeps a smile on your face.

5.Take a Selfie and Don’t Forget to Hashtag #HotGirlSummer

Lastly, while putting in the work and securing the bag don’t forget to take a bomb selfie as you live your best life, on your own terms.

It is always relaxing to get the perfect selfie and keep the movement going for all the women who are making it happen for themselves and their communities.

Have yourself a Hot Girl Summer.


Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.

The Queen of Representation – From Botswana to the world

“The A-Girls are exceptional, black vinyl dolls that appreciate the African girl of today, with all her versatility and diversity”.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’. According to Bakani, creating the brand was essential in order to excavate and resuscitate what African beauty is. 

Until August 2016, Bakani July Johnson was a Lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) in the Social Work Department. She holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work and has worked intensively in the psychosocial field since 2004, gaining experience with Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic as a social welfare case manager.

Prior to that, she worked with the Government of Botswana as a Social Welfare officer. After years of ideating, planning and testing, Bakani left the UB and started her doll-making business.

Bakani is a social entrepreneur and is constantly looking for ways to enhance the lives of others.

She is also a founding trustee of Musani Family Care Foundation, an organization that focusses on the restoration of Botswana’s family unit, and offers accommodation to families in transition, mostly caregivers of hospitalized patients who come from far off villages.

Musani Family Care Foundation seeks to bridge the gap by providing temporary housing and support for these families who need it most, at no cost. 

Connect with Bakani and her business on social media.


Why it is important for me to make the dolls…

I have always loved children. I am forever looking for ways to enhance their wellbeing and this led to the realization that there were no black dolls to use during clinical sessions with my little patients.

As a social worker, dolls are some of the symbolic tools used for communication during sessions. However, more often than not, the dolls that were donated looked nothing like the children I worked with.

This became a query, to manufactures and it was not a pretty feeling as it was seen from the point of exclusion. 

I realized that I could continue with the feeling of being ‘left out’ as a black African girl, or I could do something about it.  The research allowed me to see that I, and others like me, were never a concern for doll-makers; they had their own market and concerns.

Whatever I could find was by sheer luck.  I refused to use divisive story-telling or to accept that it was ‘someone else’s fault’ that as Batswana – and Africans – we don’t have black dolls.

The more I searched, the more I was challenged to create the doll I was looking for. I worked from thought to product, beginning in 2007.

The effect representation has on young Batswana /African girls…

We have for the longest time been portrayed as ugly, and not a representation of beauty.

If you research dolls throughout history, you will not like what you see. We have been ‘caricatured’ through the years and our features ridiculed. Our natural hair is still a full-on debate today.

With the dolls, I am simply excavating and resuscitating a black girl’s beauty.

The idea of the @AGirls15 dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. – Bakani… Click To Tweet

The idea of the dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. 

The development of The African Girls Dolls is a winning communication tool targeting children.

These are one-of-a-kind vinyl dolls that appreciate the diversity of African girls and were created with the realization of a lack of representation both commercially and in messaging for African children.

Most props and toys used are of girls and boys are not of African descent. Through the African girls’ collection, I am constantly helping organizations to create a unique language of truths, trust, and symbols as part of visual storytelling and visual messaging.

I understand that symbolically, images help us to understand abstract concepts that cannot always be translated into words and dolls have throughout history been symbols to communicate, appreciate and represent.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’, and speaking to that aspect we want to be able to say ‘she is so pretty, just like a doll’ – and actually talk about a doll that looks like her. 

Children are visual beings. They connect to things visually and will remember things seen more than things said. They connect with objects or pictures from memory.

Africa and Botswana are about symbolism, or what things represent and communicate.

By giving girls @AGirls15 dolls that look like them, we are communicating a million things without words. Silent messaging works well with children – Bakani July Johnson Click To Tweet

If you listen in on doll play, your child communicates with what she sees. If her dolly is wearing beads she will have a conversation about that. The idea was to have dolls that are relevant to the children, thus when one looks at the dolls, they will realize that some have tutu skirts and modern symbols which represents a ‘modern girl’ whereas others are dressed in traditional Tswana regalia.

Great dolls bring the thought of history, self, and admiration. Children from different ethnicities benefit from playing with dolls that are a different skin tone, make and versatility.

Though dolls are not photocopies of the individual, we believe that to a small child the most important thing is that her little dolly is beautiful just like her, validating who she is and how she relates to herself.

The role I see my dolls playing in a Motswana girl’s life

This product, created by an African woman for African children is girl-centered for now and is self-esteem/self-efficacy based.

More than play, the dolls are seen as communication tools that instill gender and ethnic pride as a foundation for social skills. What you see and is preached becomes a norm. If everyone talks about ‘light-skinned’ being better, children will want that.

I want parents to hand the dolls to the children without influencing the children’s taste about them. 

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls from those that design the clothes to those that do the hair and packaging.

I am very committed from an economic point of view to create an ecosystem that will hire many people because the project has a lot of potential for growth.

I want a situation where the dolls will have ambassadors so that the young ones can appreciate the mortal presentations of the dolls, just the way they experience the princesses that they see at places like Disneyland.

I will build the momentum and I am open to ideas to help develop the brand even further. I am sending out a call to all African and Botswana girls to join the brand as re-sellers and distributors for their countries.

How I manufacture my dolls…

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls, from those who design the clothes to those who do the hair and packaging.

Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have companies that work with vinyl for doll making, so we have been forced to outsource.

However, we do have tailors and designers, crochet ladies and shoemakers working on other aspects of the dolls locally.

How the dolls have been recieved by people so far

The success of the dolls has transcended borders and continents, and they have reached international markets.

Botswana has been amazing! The relevance is clearly understood, the need is very apparent and we can only express gratitude for all the support.

Media has been keen at each stage of their development, and young, hopeful Batswana are eagerly working to join the brand and with open arms, we are welcoming ideas and collaborations.

The dolls are currently available across Botswana, as well as re-sellers in Johannesburg, the Netherlands and the United States of America.

We have worked with brands like the Netball World Youth Cup, International Women in Sport, Botswana Tourism Organization and we are currently working on a project with Botswana Netball.

The growth of the business will definitely be stimulated by partnerships.  Partnering at different levels with others is beneficial.

I am working with so many individuals who want to run with certain aspects of the product and I have never been as relieved as the agreements come to fruition. I know now I cannot do it alone! 


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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The Tourism Queen of Botswana


Reinventing tourist experiences in Botswana

Cynthia Mothelesi is blazing a trail and carving out a unique space with bespoke experiences in the tourism landscape of Botswana.

She is somewhat of an ‘evolving soul’, constantly seeking out ways to deepen her life experiences and provide an opportunity for others to do the same with her travel agency, Happy Soul Adventures.

Trained as a graphic designer, she spent three years lecturing before deciding to expand her horizons. She applied for a job at the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), where she served as Marketing Manager for seven years.

Her experiences at BTO were an opportunity for her to travel, sharpen her marketing and PR skills and forge valuable relationships.

She then realized that there was a gap in the tourism sector, which became the catalyst for her foray into business. 

Cynthia Mothelesi uses her creativity and business savvyness to create bespoke experiences that allow her guests to engage with the soul, beauty and people of Botswana in an unimposing, intimate way. 

Connect with Cynthia and her business on her website and social media


What inspired you to go into tourism?

I saw so many opportunities and I realized that there were a lot of gaps in the industry that we were not tapping into.

In Botswana, we see tourism as going on safari, and we really only see it as valid in the Chobe or Okavango. However, I think that tourism has so many facets – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

While I was at BTO, I followed the AirBnB culture because I love hosting. Then in 2017, I decided to venture out on my own because I realized that I could grow. It could be enough for myself and I could do more with the experience and passion that I have.

How did you come up with the idea for Happy Soul Adventures?

I began by focusing on my Airbnb listing, and every week I would have guests from all over the world coming to stay with me. Most times, I would host them at my house, but I didn’t just want to give them accommodation.

I wanted to share what Botswana is all about – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

I wanted to tell them my Botswana story, especially in terms of our people. Not wanting them to just see Botswana as wildlife and safaris, but rather for them to come away knowing that we were more than what the Western media depicts us to be.

That experience taught me a lot and I decided that I would focus 100% on Happy Soul Adventures.

What kinds of tours / experiences do you offer?

Sometimes I take my guests on a city tour. It would include going to nightclubs like Zoom, or to a local pub, George’s, for karaoke night. We may go to Kilimanjaro, which has a place that sells really amazing local food.

I also have clients who come to learn how to milk a goat or bake bread the traditional way. Guests can learn how to do pottery or make a tapestry. It really goes to show that we have a beautiful story to share and that there is value that can be found in it.

What do you keep in mind when you design your tours?

I really want my guests to immerse themselves in our stories. I feel like we Africans can do more to celebrate who we are as people. We tend to shun our own culture and I want to rather celebrate what makes us unique.

Happy Soul Adventures also engages with communities. I don’t want to run a company that is only about me making a profit. So it is more of a collaborative effort.

With collaboration, we are able to build and grow more. Happy Soul Adventures is about connecting people.

What is the most important thing that you want your guests to take away from your tours?

I want people to be able to interact and break down social divides. I feel that at the end of the day, we are all human. – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

I want my guests to be able to experience this. I realized that people are looking for something new for the soul. People love simple, soulful and enriching experiences and I am happy that the responses have been great.

What does Botswana have to offer the world that is unique?

I realized that what we at home think is ‘backward’ or ‘unsophisticated’ is actually something that is unique about us. The fact that we take things slow, and keep things organic is something that people actually love about Botswana.

Guests who visit Mogobane village for example, really love the peace and quiet because it isn’t something that they get to experience often. They really get time to connect with themselves.

So, the most unique selling point about Botswana is that we are very peaceful, quiet and laid-back. It gives people the opportunity to reconnect with their soul and really get to love themselves even more.

Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.


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11 Traits to have in your single years – while waiting for a life partner

The single years can be fun and productive, but in some societies, the stigma that arises when you start getting close to a certain age can become overwhelming.

Beyond that, how can you make your single years transformational and fruitful before settling down? Here are some tips to help you:

1. Give more than you receive

This is the best time to start practicing how to share. When you get married, you’ll have to share your life with your spouse and if you have always felt that people were invading your space, this is the best time to start practicing.

Smile more, show courtesy, give out some things that you don’t need and volunteer with your time.

2. Start working on things that challenge your self-worth

Do you have issues with being confident? This is the best time to seek therapy on that. Do you feel you’re not tall or beautiful enough?

This is the best time to start seeing yourself in a positive light. Take time to evaluate what makes you feel less and start appreciating it.

In marriage, you wouldn’t want your spouse to be the source of your happiness because sometimes you’ll need to learn to enjoy your alone time. Nobody can complete you so start learning to love yourself.

3. Learn to manage your money

If you spend without a budget, plan or savings then you want to learn to manage your finance. You can start saving and investing now.

You can research on apps that allow you to save and invest and also learn more on business opportunities.

4. Learn to manage your home

If you can’t clean your space, then start owning your space well without the intention of your spouse arranging everything for you.

Learn to clean every corner of your house and practice good and healthy hygiene.

5. Be a praying person

Marriage has its own battles and you don’t want to go into marriage with an entitlement mentality.

You want to start praying for yourself, your spouse and children ahead. Learn to build a relationship with God in your single years so that you don’t build your world around your spouse alone.

6. This is time to work on your insecurities

There’re people who’ll get married and try to control or manipulate their spouse because of trust issues. This is time to stop projecting your fears on your partner.

Seek therapy and closure. It usually stems from your past experiences and it is better to seek for healing before you settle down.

7. Let go of pride

If you’ve pride issues, this is the time to start seeking professional help. Pride kills the beauty of marriage.

Don’t assume that your excesses will be managed. Pride comes before a fall.

8. Practice self-control

If you think marriage will help you to stop playing the field, that’s a mistake. Self-control is important because you won’t be having sex every day.

9. Start learning little act of commitment

Marriage works because of two committed people. Commitment should be practiced even when things are not going your way. It starts with your thoughts and decisions.

10. Travel to a new place

One of the beautiful things you can do in your single years is to go to new places and try new things. if you cannot afford to visit a different country, try traveling to another state to tour and meet new people.

11. Invest in your personal development

You should also use this period to read books, attend seminars and invest in yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough.

A lot of singles find it difficult to invest in their emotional life and it can be frustrating at the end of the day. Save yourself the stress of being hurt and clueless.

Learn and relearn. Learn about your personality type, your values, your deal-breaker, communication, love and apology languages, and so many other things.


Which of these do you want to start doing?